Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Son of God...

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.   John 3:16

This is probably one of the most well-known verses in the Bible and it tells us why Jesus came - God loves us!  We are all given a choice - separation from God for eternity or being in God's presence for eternity with the promise of no more tears, among other wonderful benefits.

The Son of God didn't give up His heavenly home and all its privileges to be confined in a human body just so we can celebrate Christmas and get lots of presents.  He came, knowing that He would die a horrible death, but would be raised from death and be glorified by the Father. And really, the name Son of God  is not easy to explain.  Because God does not have a human body, Jesus is not a son in the human sense.  He is unique and the only Son of His kind.  He was conceived by the Holy Spirit who placed the seed in Mary's womb and Jesus talked about how He and the Father are one.  The whole thing is the Trinity in action and we can understand that the Trinity exists, but I have never been able to wrap my brain around it and say that I understand it.  Hmmm...could it have anything to do with the fact that I am a finite human trying to understand an infinite God, in all three Persons?! 

I'm just very grateful that the Son of God came!  Last year, the thought occurred to me - I wonder if He ever felt claustrophobic being confined in a human body with all its limitations.  Hmmm...

Christmas Decorations

We have many snowflake ornaments on our Christmas tree that have been collected over the years.  When the girls were elementary age, we lived in El Paso and snow at Christmas was uncommon.  The girls voiced their wish that we would have snow for Christmas.  My honey and I told them that God was the only one who could make it snow on Christmas in El Paso and they needed to talk to Him about it.  They were so excited on Christmas morning when they got up and ran to look outside.  But, it was just chilly and dry outside.  They were disappointed, but changed their focus to the gifts.

We have a tradition of reading Santa, Are You For Real?, a book about the true story of St. Nicholas and his belief in Jesus, and reading the story of the Nativity before opening gifts.  On that particular Christmas morning, we had just finished praying after reading the stories when our youngest daughter started yelling, "It's snowing!  It's snowing!"  Sure enough, huge snowflakes were drifting down from the sky and covered the ground.  It only lasted for an hour or two, but God had answered the prayers of children.  That night, the weather man commented that they had no idea where the snow came from.  The girls just laughed and said that they knew where it had come from.  So, snowflakes are a symbol of answered prayer for our family and we have those reminders on our tree.  Here are some of them:

Today's Recipe - Wild Rice Salad
Taste of Home

1 cup uncooked wild rice
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups halved green grapes
1 cup sliced water chestnuts, drained
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup cashews
lettuce leaves

Cook rice according to package directions.  Drain well; cool to room temperature.  Spoon into a large bowl; add chicken, grapes, water chestnuts and mayonnaise.  Toss gently with a fork.  Cover and chill. Just before serving, add cashews if desired.  Serve on lettuce leaves or line a bowl with lettuce leaves and fill with salad.  6 servings

This is the last post until December 27. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010


Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for Jehovah is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.        Isaiah 12:2

 Jehovah means eternal in the original Hebrew.  Jesus is eternal and makes it possible for us to trust Him and not be afraid because He is our strength when life gets difficult. Difficulties happen to everyone!  I love the word picture that He helps us not be afraid because He is our song. 

Music has always been a big influence in my life, especially classic and Christian music.  One of the things I looked forward to when I was thinking about "retiring" was sitting down at the piano with my praise and worship music and playing as long as I wanted to play. 

Music and Jesus - what a great combination!  When I am awake in the middle of the night, He is my song.  When I am struggling with illness, He is my song.  When someone in my family is having a difficult time, He is my song.  When circumstances overwhelm, He is my song.  Jehovah is the forever song that brings me peace.

Note:  I used to say that I am retired until my husband pointed out that no one was paying me retirement.  The private schools where I taught didn't have retirement programs...  Now I just say that I am blissfully unemployed and somehow I am always laughing when I say it!

Christmas Wrapping
As our family grows, we have begun incorporating other Christmas traditions for our sons-in-law.  One of those traditions we use is table gifts.  The centerpiece for the Christmas dinner table is an arrangement of gifts, one for each person.  They are anything from inexpensive puzzles, games, toys to practical items or craft kits and they are opened after dinner is eaten.  It is a fun tradition since we no longer all buy gifts for everyone, but use that money to go to a donation for a favorite charity or someone in need.  After Christmas, I will tell you what we decided to do this year with our donation money.  I am so excited!!

As I've said before, I don't enjoy wrapping gifts.  So, when do I find something easy and pretty, I get excited.  Here are this year's table gifts, simply wrapped in shipping paper or placed in brown paper boxes and brown paper gift bags with sparkly red do dads from Walmart and tied with simple white ribbon (which can be reused next year). Instead of making gift tags, I used some of my scrapbook letter stickers and put each person's first initial on each package. 

Today's Recipes - Hot Fruit Salad and Egg Casserole
Serve these two with your favorite muffins or sweet bread for an easy but tasty Christmas breakfast.

This Hot Fruit Salad recipe come from my mom and serves a bunch. If you open all the cans, drain them and put all the fruit in a large covered container or baggie, it is simple to pour the fruit and mix with the other ingredients in your crockpot on Christmas morning before anyone else gets up.  It will be ready to eat after stockings and/or gifts are opened.

1 big can of each (drained):  mandarin oranges, sliced peaches, apricots, pineapple tidbits, sweet cherries
1 jar chunky applesauce

Thicken with:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup brown sugar (you can substitute 1/4 cup pure maple syrup)
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix together and cook in crockpot for 3-4 hours on low.

I serve this versatile Egg Casserole for lots of occasions.  This is another of my mom's recipes.  This is great because you prepare it the night before and put it in the oven before opening stockings or gifts on Christmas morning. 

6 eggs
2 cups milk
6 slices bread, crumbled
1 pound sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
7 oz can diced green chiles (opt)

Beat milk, eggs, salt and mustard together.  Blend in bread crumbs, sausage, cheese and chiles.  Pour into sprayed 9x13 glass baking dish.  Place in refrigerator and let soak overnight.  Put cold dish in oven and then turn oven on to 350 degrees and bake for 40-50 minutes until edges pull away from pan. 

Note:  You can also add corn, roasted peppers or sun-dried tomatoes to this casserole to put your own spin on it for your family's taste.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lord of Lords...

And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, 'King of Kings, and Lord of Lords."
Revelation 19:16

Jesus will come back and will be recognized as Lord of Lords which means, in Greek from this verse, that He is supreme in authority.  There is no power greater than His and He will actually set up His government on earth.  Now, that can sound a bit scary considering all the things that are going on in this world today.  But, He will be the best ruler the earth has ever had because His character will not change.  Everything we have learned about Him by studying some of His names will always be true of Him.  What an awesome Lord of Lords He is! 

Christmas Decorations

I bought a plain white candle, spread glue all over it and rolled it in glitter to make this pretty candle.  Then I put it with this glittery red candle wreath.  It is so pretty in the morning when the sun comes in the nearby windows.  It just glows!

Don't you just love a fire in the fireplace on cold mornings and evenings?  We have a gas fireplace and although it is clean and easy to use, it is also expensive to have a fire as often as I would like.  So, I pulled out four candles that have been used alot and aren't so pretty for decorating.  They were perfect to make a "fire" in the fireplace anytime I like.

Today's Recipe - Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
I got this recipe off the box of Skinner macaroni.  It is easy and so good!

7 oz pkg elbow macaroni
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (can use GF flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp paprika
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Cheddar cheese (I use sharp Cheddar for better flavor)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  In small saucepan over low heat, melt butter; stir in flour, salt, pepper and paprika; cook 1 minute.  Gradually add milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sauce thickens.  Add cheese; stir until cheese is melted.  Mix pasta and sauce and pour into sprayed 2-quart casserole.  Bake 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  3-4 servings

Optional Topping:  I like to spread a thin layer of buttered breadcrumbs over thinly sliced tomatoes that are placed over the macaroni and cheese before baking.  Serve with salad and peas. Yummy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Alpha and Omega...

Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
Revelation 22:12-13

In Greek, Alpha is the first letter of the alphabet and literally means the firstOmega is the last letter in the alphabet and means finality.  There is nothing before Him and He will never cease to exist.

And He is the image of the invisible God, the first heir of all creation.  For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created by Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.   
Colossians 1:15-17

Do you get the sense that without Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, everything would fall apart?!   Interesting!  I think I need to think about what that means throughout my day...

Unusual Christmas Decorations

My friend, Pam, is a decorator by profession and I get so many ideas for unusual decorations when I go to her house.  Here are a few of my favorites:  placing large heavy ornaments on candlesticks, hanging ornaments on lamps and piling ornaments in trays and bowls.

Today's Recipe - My Mom's Potato Casserole
It just wouldn't be Christmas without my mom's potato casserole!  It's great with brisket, really any meat.  Add some cubed turkey ham with green beans on the side and you have a complete meal.  This recipe is easy and so good!

2 pounds frozen hash brown potatoes
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dried minced onion
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pint sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp pepper

Thaw potatoes and mix all the ingredients.  Bake in a sprayed 9x13 glass baking dish.

Optional topping:
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups crushed cornflakes
2 cups crushed potato chips

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I'm sorry there wasn't a post on Friday - we were on the road to get our oldest daughter and grandson to bring them home for a visit before Christmas.  And yesterday we didn't have internet service...  But I'm back home and enjoying our visitors.  I've got major spoiling to get caught up on with our grandson who is the cutest little bundle of smiling energy.  Now back to the names of Jesus...

And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.  
1 John 4:14

Savior - One who brings deliverance from the power and effects of sin, according to Webster's Dictionary. 
In the Greek, Savior means a deliverer, one who heals and makes whole.  Too often people hear that they need a Savior so they won't go to hell.  Well, yes. Because He is my Savior, I won't go to hell when I physically die but will go into His presence in heaven. 

But our Savior brings us so much more!  As Webster's states, He also delivers us from the power of sin and its effects in our lives.  He heals us in so many ways and makes us whole people no matter what experiences we have had in this life.  I have been a Christian for almost 50 years and I am constantly amazed by what I learn about myself and my Savior through studying His Word and through talking to Him about my joys and sorrows. 

We don't have to wait for death to benefit from having a relationship with the Savior.  We can enjoy those benefits now - every day!

Christmas Decoration

A couple of years ago, I bought some large shatterproof ornaments to put in the wire basket outside the front door to bring a splash of color and sparkle to the porch.  I tucked in a bit of greenery and a velvet bow.

Today's Recipe - Pretzel Bark
Food and Family

1 cup chopped pretzels
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 1/2 pkgs. (12 squares) Baker's semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Stir pretzels and nuts into chocolate; spread onto waxed paper-covered baking sheet.  Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.  Break into pieces. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lamb of God...

Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!    John 1:29

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.   Revelation 5:12

 Jesus is the Lamb of God who came to earth willingly to provide payment for our sins.  He never sinned, He was the perfect spotless sacrificial lamb, yet took on all our sins so we could have eternal life and be freed from the power of sin in our lives. 

This ornament always reminds me of the song of the same name by Twila Paris:

Your only Son
No sin to hide
But You have sent Him,
From Your side
To walk upon this guilty sod
And to become the Lamb of God

Your gift of Love
They crucified
They laughed and scorned Him as He died
The humble King
They named a fraud
And sacrificed the Lamb of God

I was so lost I should have died
But You have brought me to Your side
To be led by Your staff and rod
And to be called a lamb of God

Oh Lamb of God, Sweet Lamb of God
I love the Holy Lamb of God
Oh wash me in His precious blood
My Jesus Christ the Lamb of God

The Lamb was born so He could die and provide the payment for sin, once and for all.  Thank you, Jesus!

Christmas Gifts

Yesterday, Heather (one of our young moms from our Life Group) and I shopped and put together Christmas gifts for her family.  We had a great time and it was fun to watch her excitement as she learned how to be creative on a budget. Our first stop was Big Lots where we found clear gift bags with snowflakes on them and bottles with cinnamon sticks and small graters attached to them.  The next stop was Hobby Lobby where she purchased small white paper bags and the brown paper boxes that we used to hold all the items of each gift. (The boxes come with lids which we just put on the bottom of the boxes before putting them into the clear gift bags.)  Then we went to World Market and bought vinegar and oil bottles (2 for $4) and a large bottle of olive oil.  The last purchase was a variety of bulk organic herbs at Natural Grocers.

Back at the house, the vinegar and oil bottles were washed and then each filled with a clove of garlic, 1/2 tsp peppercorns, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, a sprig of fresh rosemary from my garden and olive oil.  Next, we printed labels for the herb bags in blue ink, cut them apart, folded them in half and Heather stamped blue snowflakes on them.  While she was doing that, I measured out the herbs (1-1 1/2 cups each) pouring them into sandwich baggies that went into the small white paper bags. The labels were then stapled onto the top of each bag.

When the assembling was finished, we put the items into the boxes along with tissue paper.  The tops of the gift bags were gathered and held together with clear rubber bands.  Then Heather tied on the gift tags.  Wonderful practical gifts each for under $20!  My kitchen smelled fabulous and we had a great time putting them together.

Today's Recipe - Chocolate Pudding
This is a family favorite any time of year, but my Mom always makes sure she has a chocolate pudding pie made for the holidays.  You can serve it in individual dishes with whipped cream and chocolate jimmies or pour it into a ready made chocolate or graham cracker pie crust and top it with whipped cream and chocolate jimmies.

3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
5 tablespoons flour
dash of salt

2 cups milk
Cook over medium heat, stirring with a whisk, until thickened

3 tablespoons butter
1 tsp vanilla

For Pie:  cool first and then pour into crust

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Faithful and True...

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True...   Revelation 19:11

Today's name for Jesus is Faithful and True found in Revelation 19:11.  The original Greek pretty much means what you probably think it means in English - trustworthy, reliable, genuine, cannot lie and fulfills what He says. 

We could camp right here on this name for weeks, but we will look at one aspect of the fact that Jesus is Faithful and True.  John 8:32 and 36 says, And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.

In today's world, deception and lies are commonplace and lead to captivity of many kinds.  How wonderful that Jesus is reliable and genuine and trustworthy!  He is the source of the truth and that truth makes us free.  I've experienced being set free as I study the Word of God and grow in my relationship with Jesus. When He allows something in my life which is difficult, as my Wonderful Counselor He helps me work through it and reinforces that He is Faithful and True.  I am so grateful for Him!

Christmas Crafts:  Wrapping Gifts

My love language is buying or making gifts for others.  The thing I like the least about gifts is wrapping them.  In the last few years, I prefer to "wrap" with reusable gift bags or boxes.  I am trying to not be so wasteful.  Did you know you can actually iron used tissue paper?  I really need to do that this year...

My honey and I buy two gifts for each of our grandchildren for Christmas; an outfit and something to play with.  So, I went to Hobby Lobby and checked out the Christmas wrapping aisle where everything was 50%.  Then I went to the regular gift wrapping section by the cards and looked at what I could use there combined with the Christmas stuff.  I bought the red and green gift bags, some red and white polka dot tissue paper and some Christmas tissue paper that had a snowflake design in red, green, white and blue.  I also bought a big pack of white tissue paper because it was cheap and I use alot of it throughout the year.

I used to use just one kind of tissue paper in gift bags, but my friend Pam has inspired me to be more creative and have fun using different colors and designs together. 

Someone showed me several years ago how to pinch a piece of tissue paper in the middle and then flip it down to make it easier to put in a gift bag.

So now I had my bags with the gifts inside and the tissue paper added.  I wanted to make my own gift tags, so I went through my craft and scrapbooking stuff looking for items in blue, red, white and green.

Sorry this is sideways...not sure how to fix it!  Because my bags were red and green, I decided to use blue, red and white to make the tags.  I had these cute letters (the letter pops out so you get two usable letters for tags), some snowflake buttons and blue, red and clear jewels.  I cut circles out of white and blue cardstock (I used pinking shears to cut the blue circles) and put red paper under the cut out letters.  Then the jewels and snowflakes were glued on.

I wanted the tags to have some dimension, so I used mounting tape to make them thicker.

Next, holes were punched in each tag and red ribbon was added to attach them to the gift bags.

The gift bags had "cuffs" at the top, so I put tape on the ends of the ribbon, pulled out the "cuff" and taped the ends of the ribbon under the "cuff".  (I had already written a note from Papa and Nanna to each recipient.)

So cute and fun to make!

Today's Recipe - Three-Chip English Toffee
From Taste of Home

1/2 tsp plus 2 cups real butter, divided
2 cups sugar
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup vanilla or white chips
1 1/2 tsp shortening

Butter a 15x10x1 baking pan with 1/2 tsp butter.  In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, bring sugar and remaining butter to a boil, stirring constantly.  Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Uncover; add almonds.  Cook and stir with a clean spoon until a candy thermometer reads 300 degrees (hard-crack stage) and mixture is golden brown.  Pour into prepared pan (do not scrape sides of saucepan).  Surface will be buttery.  Cool for 1-2 minutes.  Sprinkle with milk chocolate chips.  Let stand for 1-2 minutes; spread chocolate over the top.  Sprinkle with nuts; press down gently with the back of a spoon. Chill for 10 minutes.
In a microwave or heavy saucepan, melt semisweet ships; stir until smooth.  Drizzle over nuts.  Refrigerate for 10 minutes.  Melt vanilla chips and shortening; stir until smooth.  Drizzle over nuts. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  Break into pieces.  Yield:  about 2 1/2 pounds.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


The woman (at the well) said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us."  Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."
John 4:25-26

It's sad that Handel's Messiah is usually only heard during the Christmas season.  Did you know that it was first performed in Dublin, Ireland, as a charity concert in April of 1742, conducted by Handel himself?  He used Old Testament passages from Isaiah, Haggai, Malachi, Zechariah, Psalms, Lamentations and Job and New Testament passages from Matthew, Luke, John, Romans, I Corinthians, Hebrews and Revelation as lyrics for the songs to tell about the Messiah - Jesus the Christ

And it doesn't end with the Hallelujah Chorus, the most famous of the songs in this oratorio.  It closes with Worthy is the Lamb That Was Slain which ends with six pages of "Amen,"(so be it)!

The Messiah brought and still brings hope and deliverance from sin and oppression.   In the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the Christ, which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Messiah.  In the passage at the top of this post, He told the woman at the well that He is the Christ.  He fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies, which is amazing in itself. 

As I was studying for today's post, I found the following powerful testimony from a Jewish believer in the book Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell:

I read in the Scriptures that God would send a perfect sacrifice to atone for my sins, one called The Messiah.  But, how could I know who this Messiah would be?  Then, in the Jewish Bible, I saw all the prophecies which identified Him; such as, - that He would be born in Bethlehem of Judea, that He would be born of a young maiden who was a virgin, that He would die by crucifixion and that He would arise from the dead!

I knew that only One Person in all of history could seriously be considered - Yeshua, known to the Gentiles as Jesus!  And this Jewish boy, not being very religious, - in the privacy of my own room, I prayed..."Messiah, if you're there, come into my heart and life and cleanse me with your precious blood of atonement!"

It was like being in a dark room and somebody suddenly turned on the lights!  God, who had been a million miles away, all of a sudden came closer than my mother, my sister, my hands or even my breath!  I finally found the peace and the purpose and the joy and the reality for which I had been seeking!!!                                      Manny Brotman

I am definitely only scratching the surface of this topic.  If you would like to know more about Messiah, a great book to read is The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, especially the tenth chapter. If you like more technical information, read Evidence That Demands a Verdict I & II and More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell.  Amazing!!

Christmas Decorations

Several years ago, I wanted to put ornaments on our tree that were "Jesus specific."  I couldn't find any that were nice, so I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some thin wooden ovals and made my own.  It's easy now to find these kind of ornaments, especially in Christian bookstores, and many of them are beautiful.  The other day I was in Hobby Lobby and found ceramic ornaments that you can decorate yourself.  I thought about redoing my Jesus ornaments...for about five seconds!  Nope!  What I have will do just fine.

Here's how I made them:

I sanded the wood ovals so they were smooth after holes for ribbon were drilled.  Then I decoupaged scrapbook paper on one side and used a Psalm 23 rubber stamp with gold ink on the other side.  I printed the different names in a pretty font, tore them apart and decoupaged them onto the sides with the scrapbook paper. Then, the edges were antiqued with a brown ink pad and a pretty ribbon, long enough to tie onto tree branches, was added when it was completely dry.  Easy peasy!

Today's Recipe - Dump Cake
This recipe is perfect for an easy dessert to take to a party.

16 oz cherry pie filling
16 oz. crushed pineapple
1 box white or yellow cake mix
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan. Dump the cherry pie filling and the crushed pineapple into the pan and mix.  Dump the dry cake mix over the top of the fruit and smooth out.  Cut the stick of butter into 1/4 thick pieces and place evenly in rows on top of the cake mix.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream with red and green Christmas sprinkles.

Option - If you like pecans, sprinkle 1/2 cup of chopped pecans over the cake mix before baking.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Prince of Peace...

...and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

The last of the names of Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 is Prince of Peace.  In Hebrew, Prince means head person, leader.  You probably have heard the Hebrew word for Peace - Shalom. It means completeness, personal welfare or health, friendly, a state in which one can feel at ease and comfortable with someone.  The relationship is one of harmony and wholeness, which is the opposite of the state of strife and war - Vine's Expository Dictionary.

Jesus is our leader, our source, of harmony and wholeness.  We can find complete acceptance, unconditional love, in our relationship with Him.  We cannot find lasting peace anywhere else!  The countries of our world desperately need peace, which is obvious when I watch the news.  Marriages, families and children desperately need peace.  Our kids all work with youth, as does a nephew. I also have a niece who works at the state level with children and families.  I have several sisters-in-law that are teachers.  They all can attest to the lack of peace in too many families. 

Personally, fear was a constant companion for many years.  My Prince of Peace helped me work through the issues that caused the fear and I can tell you that there is wonderful freedom in His shalom.  The passage that our family quotes often is found in Philippians 4:6-7:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The peace He brings doesn't make sense. We can't humanly understand it.  But we can certainly feel it!  And I love that it doesn't just make us feel better, but it guards our emotions (hearts) and our thoughts (minds).

Have you heard of the contest where artists were instructed to paint a picture depicting peace?  Many peaceful scenes were painted, but the painting that won was of a bird sleeping in a nest on the edge of a cliff in a terrible storm. 

All of us experience "storms" in our lives.  But Jesus offers shalom in the midst of them.  I am forever grateful for my Prince of Peace.

Christmas Decorations

My honey and I bought a cute little angel when we were first married to put on the top of our Christmas tree.  When she got a little frayed, I replaced her with a more majestic looking angel with a beautiful flowing gown.  Then, one of our favorite Bible teachers, Dr. David Jeremiah, taught about angels.  Did you know that angels are not ever referred to as feminine?  In fact, a warrior would be a better representation of an true angel.  And if you topped your tree with something that actually looked like a seraphim angel, it would scare the children!

So, I donated our tree angel to Goodwill and purchased a star tree topper to represent the star of Bethlehem. 

Today's Recipe - Fried Apples

Granny Smith apples (1 per person), thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter for each apple
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup for each 2 apples
cinnamon to taste
sprinkle of nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
whipping cream or half & half

Fry sliced apples in butter.  Add spices and syrup and cook over medium heat until apples are soft.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Top each serving with shipping cream or half & half.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Everlasting Father...

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father...  Isaiah 9:6

The last couple of days we have seen that the prophecy in Isaiah 9:6 tells us that Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor who advises us and helps us resolve issues and He is our powerful warrior.  Today, we will look at the meaning of the name, Everlasting Father.

Please know that we are only scratching the surface of what each of these names represent.  This is not meant to be an in depth study, but merely a thought provoking look at the jewels on the top of a bottomless treasure. We haven't even begun to discuss how the Father, Son and Spirit are intertwined in all of this. Whew!  Ok, let's get back to today's name for Jesus.

In the Hebrew, Everlasting means duration in the sense of perpetuity.  Jesus has always been and will always be there! The Hebrew word for Father in this passage is ab and it literally means the first man in a lineage and his relationship to those who follow.  Colossians 1:15-18 shows us how this was and is fulfilled by Jesus. 

Um, wow!  Stop and think about that for a minute!  According to Romans 8:29, God's intention for us is to be conformed so that it's obvious to others that we are His children because we resemble the first born, Jesus.  He is our big brother, so to speak, and we are to imitate Him in our daily lives.  But please understand, it's not because of a legalistic command.  It's because of our relationship with Him, our love for Him and what He has done for us and is doing in us.

I have to be honest.  It's so easy to be selfish and do what I want to do when I want to do it and spend money on what I want.  It's easy to think it's a sacrifice to put myself aside and follow God in obedience every day.  But, when I spend time with Him in His Word and talk to Him (prayer) and listen to the Spirit's leading, I can be obedient with a willing heart because of my relationship with Him and the common interests that are a result of that relationship. 

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.                   Philippians 2:3-7

So, what does that look like in my life?  Well, when I am selfish, I need to humble myself and apologize to whomever my selfishness affects.  Instead of only being focused on what I think the holidays need to be like at my house for my family, I need to make sure I am meeting the needs of others, as well.  Instead of buying more Christmas decorations, even if they are on sale, I need to buy blankets or coats so some people can stay warm this winter. I need to have extra food in my pantry for struggling widows and families so they will know that Jesus loves them. 

What would our Everlasting Father, the first born of our spiritual family who is always there, have you do this Christmas?

Christmas Decorations

 Ok, this seems a little silly after what we just learned, but I have to go back to the purpose of the decorations.  I want it to be obvious to other people when they come into our home that we celebrate Christ's birth during the holidays.  I don't want it to become an excuse for materialism, though.  Hmm...

Today's Recipe - Layered Black Bean Dip
from Food & Family

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
10 oz can Rotel, drained
1 cup Mexican style shredded cheese

Spread cream cheese onto the bottom of a shallow bowl.  Layer with beans and Rotel; top with shredded cheese.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mighty God...

Note:  There is a recipe at the bottom of the post each day.  Just so you know...

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God... Isaiah 9:6

I kind of get the feeling that the portrayal of Jesus in today's media is less than what His description is in this verse.  We saw yesterday that He is our personal counselor who advises us and helps us resolve our issues.  That is very comforting! 

The second name mentioned for Jesus in this verse is Mighty GodMighty, in Hebrew, means powerful warrior.  The word used for God in this verse means the Almighty (el - the same name for God the Father) and strength.  When was the last time you saw Jesus portrayed in the media as a powerful warrior against the forces of evil?!  Have you ever thought of Him as your powerful warrior?

Romans 8:28 begins to make more sense when we read it knowing Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor and our Mighty GodAnd we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

This, too, is very comforting!

Christmas Decorations - Nativity

Our youngest daughter brought this simple Nativity set back for me on her return from a mission trip to Africa.

This Nativity item is in the guest room and is an ornament that stands up on its own.  I simply tucked a silk poinsettia behind it. 

This music box is metal and plays O Holy Night.

Bathrooms get Nativity decorations, too. 


Several years ago, I became convinced that our Christmas decorations needed to proclaim Christ.  I didn't have alot of secular Christmas decorations to begin with, but I felt I needed to be more purposeful in the decorations I did use.  Next week, I will write about the ornaments I made because of that goal.  I also began collecting Nativity ornaments.  The first several years, Nativity ornaments that weren't cheesy were hard to find.  They are becoming more available and I have found that Hobby Lobby has the best selection.  I also look at Christian bookstores where there are more to choose from each year.  Here are some of my favorites:

Today's Recipe - Layered Sun Dried Tomato and Artichoke Spread 
Kraft Foods
This spread makes an impressive festive appetizer that is easy to make.

8 oz cream cheese, well chilled
3 tablespoons finely chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil, well drained
3 tablespoons finely chopped drained canned artichoke hearts
2 tablespoons pesto
2 tablespoons chopped smoked almonds
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

Cut cream cheese horizontally into 3 slices using dental floss.  Place 1 slice on a large sheet of plastic wrap; top with tomatoes and second cream cheese slice.
Combine artichokes and pesto; spoon over second cream cheese layer.  Top with remaining cheese slice, spreading the nuts and parsley on top; press lightly to secure.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour.  Unwrap and place on a small platter.  Garnish with a sprig of parsley or basil.  Serve with crackers.